A gorgeous setting plus a beautiful couple made this wedding day pretty spectacular!  Alaka & Chad’s Destination Wedding on Jekyll Island featured sun, cool breezes, low country charm and a celebration that lasted into the night.  I’m better with images, so I’ll let those tell you the whole story of how wonderful this day truly was.

Ciao!

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | Destination Wedding Photographer | Melissa Schollaert Photography | www.msp-photography.com

Have you ever had a moment where you were finally rewarded for your work?  All of those long hours, blood, sweat and tears paid off.  It’s like a long and deep sigh of relief that one of your goals has come true.  I felt this way when I found out that some of my Italy images were going to be published in Food & Wine Magazine!  It was pretty special to have my work chosen to be displayed in this article featuring Mario Batali’s top restaurant picks all over Italy.

Published in Food & Wine Magazine | Photography | Melissa Schollaert Photography | www.msp-photography.com
If you don’t know, Italy holds a special place in my heart and I just love being there.  I took these photos while traveling around the Amalfi Coast for the first time, exploring this beautiful land and enjoying the sun.  It is such an honor to have your work chosen to be published, especially in a publication as prestigious as Food & Wine.

Published in Food & Wine Magazine | Photography | Melissa Schollaert Photography | www.msp-photography.com

Published in Food & Wine Magazine | Photography | Melissa Schollaert Photography | www.msp-photography.com
Published in Food & Wine Magazine | Photography | Melissa Schollaert Photography | www.msp-photography.com
If you dream of Italy and want to have beautiful images like this on your own walls at home, be sure to stop by my online print shop, L’Arte del Viaggio to see more travel prints!  Prints are available in a variety of sizes, and printed on sumptuous, archival paper.  Visit the site to see more of Italy, Paris, Hawaii and more at L’arte del Viaggio Shop!
Ciao!
Atlanta Wedding Photographer | Destination Wedding Photographer | Melissa Schollaert Photography | www.msp-photography.com
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Does this sound familiar?  You’re a small business and don’t know where to start with social media.  Or maybe you have an Instagram account but don’t know how to make it work for you.  You don’t know what to post and don’t have any images or content to post either.  Or, you’re regularly posting but getting no engagement and no potential clients contacting you.

Today I am revealing my Top 5 Social Media Tips for Brands to help you make your social media shine!  All it takes is a little planning and organization on your part to make your profile stand out and attract the clients you desire.

It’s not just about posting loads of images or trying to attract the most followers.  You want to strategize so that your ideal client will find you and hire you for who you are and what you do.  You don’t necessarily want the most followers, but the right followers who will find you and hire you.  For this post, I’ll be focusing on Instagram but some of the same concepts apply to other social media channels.

Top 5 Social Media Tips for Brands | Small Business Tips | Melissa Schollaert Photography | www.msp-photography.com
WHO ARE YOU
Top 5 Social Media Tips for Brands | Small Business Tips | Melissa Schollaert Photography | www.msp-photography.com

One of the biggest mistakes I see on Instagram and social media is when brands do not include information about their company.  Sometimes, it’s hard to tell what the business is all about or what they make and what services they provide.  It’s as simple as spelling it out in your profile and telling clients exactly what you offer.

In addition, be sure that you list where you are located if you have a storefront or provide a service in a particular area.  Could you provide services elsewhere?  Yes, but not having a base location may turn away some potential clients since they don’t understand where you are located.

Don’t forget to include your website and email address so that clients can reach you.  I can’t tell you how many accounts I’ve gone to that do not have this basic information and there’s no way for me to contact them or hire them for their services.  At minimum list your website address where further information is accessible.

Last, be sure to upload a profile image to your account.  This image should show you, the owner of the business, or a photo of your store or products so that right away people get an idea what you’re about.  If you’re an artist, post an amazing photo of you that shows the person behind the work so people can relate to you.  If you are a writer show the cover of your latest book, a cook can show their signature dish.

Potential clients will only contact you if you list this important information and have a complete profile.  Let people see who you are and encourage them to further interact with you to make your profile a success!

BE CONSISTENT

Having a cohesive profile that really shows your brand is very important in attracting clients.  You want everything you post from your words to your images to maintain a clear brand message.  Unfortunately, I’ve seen one too many sloppy profiles that post inconsistent imagery and poor text to describe each post.  Or worse off, no text at all.  Usually if I’m searching for a business from which I’m going to purchase something, an account with inconsistent and poor imagery will quickly have me clicking elsewhere.

Top 5 Social Media Tips for Brands | Small Business Tips | Melissa Schollaert Photography | www.msp-photography.comWhen you look at someone’s profile, you want to see consistent posting as well as consistency and quality of imagery as well.  It’s not about having the most images, but rich, quality images that show you and what you do.  The style of photography should be similar in all of your photos.  For example, you don’t want to mix light and dark photos together, or photos from many different sources that have a different quality and feel.  This will muddy up your brand and make it appear as if you don’t have a clear style, message or product.

In the examples above, you’ll see what I mean by a good and consistent range and quality of images.  In @bridgettlynette‘s Instagram grid, you can see that all the images are very light and airy and include similar colors in most of her posts.  You can tell this brand’s style is clean, crisp, with neutral pastels, nature elements and a bit of whimsy in her work.  They all flow nicely together and show a clear message about what this brand is about.

The example on the right is the account of @jajajanyc which is a Mexican restaurant in New York City.  You can see from their recent posts that they are rich and vibrant, showing their personality in their restaurant space, drinks and food that they serve and other supportive images to show how fun this place is (yellow umbrella & quirky pants).  This shows that they won’t be your typical Mexican restaurant, but will provide something a big more eclectic and unique.  Further scrolling down their profile reveals a color story, where their images fade from color to color throughout the grid. In addition to photos of their food and drink, they also mix in environmental images of cactus, succulents, beaches and florals to further communicate their message and the feeling of their brand.

Both of these examples are consistent, and each image is on-brand and of similar quality, light and style.  There’s not one image that stands out, they all flow together.  Imagine if one dark, poor quality image was thrown in here?  It would make this business look bad, and some potential clients may not hire them because they see one inconsistent image that doesn’t match the rest.  They’ll be wondering, will I get that one bad meal if I go here?  Or will my products not look like what I see on their profile?  Keeping your imagery consistent will help immensely with selling your client that you are a professional and providing a consistent product or high level of service for all of your customers.

SELECT 5 SUBJECTS

One way to keep things clear and help you figure out what to post is to determine five different subjects or themes of images that you will show.  Narrowing down to just five will help you stay on track, making sure you cover all of the themes that your brand is about.  It also eliminates the “what should I post today?” question.  As long as you’re sticking to one of your five subjects, you know that you’re telling your story.

So, what themes & subjects should your brand be about?  In addition to showing products that you offer and discussing your services, you want to infuse a little bit about “you” and what your brand stands for.  It should be a visual representation of your business that will tell potential clients what you are all about and what your style is.
Top 5 Social Media Tips for Brands | Small Business Tips | Melissa Schollaert Photography | www.msp-photography.com

For example, as you can see above in my grid above my five subjects are: Travel, Branding Photography, Weddings, Inspirational Quotes, Food/Cocktails

I show what kinds of things that I photograph (weddings & branding photography) as well as what I’m interested in (travel, food & cocktails), and what inspires my work (inspirational quotes).  Tell people what you are about, both professionally with a bit of personality mixed in so that they can see who you are.  If you are a small business, or an artist who works alone you definitely want to tell people about you and let them get to know your personality.  You never know if they might love cocktails too or be obsessed with travel and BOOM, they automatically can relate to you and trust you.

This is also where you can infuse a bit more of your personal life into your feed.  Don’t forget to post images of YOU, either having fun or doing your job.  When people get to know the person behind the business they will understand your story and passion for your work, and therefore value it more.  This is why I recommend that all size businesses have branding portraits done of themselves and their employees, as well as showing some behind the scenes imagery of you at work.  Research has shown that clients will place a higher value on your work if they see some of the process behind it and how passionate you are.

TELL A STORY

One way to stand out and make your account unique is to tell a story by designing patterns within your Instagram grid.  This is one way to differentiate yourself from other businesses when people view your grid.  Immediately they can tell that you are unique and are communicating a clear brand message.

Top 5 Social Media Tips for Brands | Small Business Tips | Melissa Schollaert Photography | www.msp-photography.comThere’s so many ways to do this.  Let’s take the two examples above.  @culinessa has created a pattern in their grid by alternating horizontal and vertical images that have a white border around them.  Right away, each image stands apart from the one beside it and you can see the entire image not just a square.  There’s other accounts which design other patterns with their grid, alternating images with more graphic elements or images that span over multiple posts.  The design options are limitless and you can really create something that is unique to you and your brand.

In the second example, @pantone has created a grid in which as you scroll down the colors fade and merge into one another.  Pantone is a color management system, so right away you understand that they are about all the colors of the rainbow and more.  It perfectly fits their brand and shows what they do.

POST UNIQUE CONTENT

I could probably write an entire post about having unique content for your social media posts, so I’ll try to keep this to the basics of what you need to know as a beginner.  Why is having unique content so important?  In a sea of accounts with over 700 million active monthly users on Instagram alone, you want your account to be different and unique.  If you create your own content and imagery, you’re keeping things fresh and tailoring your posts to your overall brand message and therefore attracting your ideal client.  Plus, imagine if you posted the same image on your account as a competitor – what would potential clients think if they saw the same thing on two different accounts?  It would be confusing for them.  Plus, you are not your competitor and should post unique imagery and graphics that are specifically created for your business.

Top 5 Social Media Tips for Brands | Small Business Tips | Melissa Schollaert Photography | www.msp-photography.comNow, just for a moment let’s talk about what you can and cannot legally post on Instagram.  Instagram’s terms of service indicate that you cannot post any imagery or artwork that you do not own the copyright to.  What does this mean?  You simply cannot go online searching for images and re-post them to your Instagram account.  You must first get permission from the copyright holder, usually the photographer who created the image.  If you don’t get permission, you could face fines or legal action against you or potentially have your account blocked.  Fines for copyright infringement can be significant, and can devastate many small businesses should they be caught.

There’s also a somewhat unspoken moral code on Instagram, dealing with the fact that depending on the type of your business you should only post images that show YOUR work, your property or photographs/artwork that was created by YOU.  And if not, you should disclose that.  Imagine if you are an artist selling paintings.  You are inspired by many things in your work, but if you posted another artists painting it would be confusing to your audience.  Yes, you might be inspired by it and aspire to their level of artistry but you’re confusing your potential clients by posting work that isn’t yours.  Furthermore, they are thinking that this is the artwork that you can create and you are misleading them.  Just as I’m a photographer, but I don’t post images that were not taken by me as this would confuse my clients.

Now, if I happen to post a photo of myself that was taken by another photographer I do get permission from them as well as credit them in the image description.  If your business is one that did not create or pay for the photographs, but the image shows your work you should always credit the photographer in the description and tag them as well as get permission to post the image.  This is a common courtesy.  There’s so much more on this subject, but let’s get back to the point at hand.

I’ve posted two examples above of brands that are creating unique content for their accounts.  They also aren’t muddying up their feed by posting images from many photographers or other sources.  These brands have either hired a photographer to professionally shoot their products/space/store, or they are creating their own unique content in-house.

The first example is a little cafe called @plukamsterdam that is the cutest little place in central Amsterdam that serves coffee, tea, beautiful pastries, a healthy breakfast and lunch menu.  They also have a small retail space in the cafe that sells products.  Their feed is full of their lovely food and drink as well as all the products that they sell both in-store and online.  In addition to all of their in-house created imagery, you will also find that they have a vlog series of videos and are very active creating stories on Instagram on a daily basis.  Because they create their own imagery and video, they are very active in keeping their brand message on-point and cohesive with every post, story and blogpost they release.

The second example is the beauty brand @loccitane which also creates their own marketing shoots for their products.  You can see how the style and lighting of each image is very similar, and often their products are styled with other beauty tools and the ingredients that make up their products.  You can further see their dedication to using quality ingredients by their use of videos in their feed which show flowers dancing out of their perfume bottles, or images of lavender in the French countryside which inspires one of their bath product lines.  This shows that if you are in full control of the content and imagery that you produce, your brand message will remain clear and at the forefront of what you post.

Top 5 Social Media Tips for Brands | Small Business Tips | Melissa Schollaert Photography | www.msp-photography.com
So, how can you create unique content for you and your brand?  I photograph brands, their products, their spaces and the people behind them – telling their unique story about why they are special.  I get to know who you are, why you started your business and your goals so that we bring that out in visual form.  Contact me today to learn about my Branding Photography Collections, or chat about how a Branding Photography Session can elevate your business and attract your ideal clients.  You can contact me via my website HERE or via email at melissa@melissaschollaertphotography.com  I can’t wait to talk to you and hear about your business!

Ciao!

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | Destination Wedding Photographer | Melissa Schollaert Photography | www.msp-photography.com

 

 

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It is always so fun working with my clients from their engagement, through their planning process and all the way to their wedding day.  I love getting to know my clients and learning all about how they met, fell in love, got engaged and how those events shape their wedding day.  As you may have seen from their engagement photos, David proposed to Melissa with the help of their dog Cooper – who also made several appearances during their wedding day.  I love that they included Cooper throughout their events, and I know he enjoyed being spoiled by everyone too.

Their day was highlighted not only by their pup, but also all of their friends and family who were so excited to see Melissa & David tie the knot!  You could feel the love that everyone had for each other so strongly, and that celebration continued long into the night.  Their stylish and chic reception at The Four Seasons featured lots of dancing, toasts, champagne and a dazzling confetti send off for the Bride & Groom. (And yes, I’m still finding glitter in my camera bags, ha!)

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Congratulations Melissa & David!

Ciao!

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | Destination Wedding Photographer | Melissa Schollaert Photography | www.msp-photography.com

Sometimes when a wedding is over, I’m so sad because it’s the end of working with my clients.  And such was true of Melanie & Ben’s beautiful wedding.  Despite the biggest storm and heavy downpour during photos with the bridesmaids, everyone remained calm and almost un-phased by the rain.  We continued photos of the wedding party beneath the outdoor portico, family was around us laughing and talking and smiling.  I loved that!  They weren’t going to let a little rain ruin anything.  And you know what?  The sun soon came out and the outdoor ceremony, even though the chairs had been soaked earlier, went on without a hitch after they were dried off.  Nothing was going to stop this happy day from occurring.

Congratulations to Melanie & Ben, and best wishes for a lifetime of love!  Cheers!

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Ciao!
Atlanta Wedding Photographer | Destination Wedding Photographer | Melissa Schollaert Photography | www.msp-photography.com
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